Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing

Gai, Queen Of The Jumps

Caption

 

Source: RSN.Com.Au
Words: Matt Stewart
 

When Gai Waterhouse arrived by train to the Warrnambool May carnival in 2013, she was a celebrity outsider, a marketing coup. She would speak at a ladies’ lunch, wander about and mingle with awe-struck jumps fans and retreat to her flash rental on the main beach at Port Fairy. She was a breeze-in.

But Waterhouse liked what she saw. The jumping was a little familiar. They hadn’t had regular jumps in Waterhouse’s hometown since the 19040s and they’re more likely to chat about ice skating than jumps racing in the Randwick trainer’s hut. But jumps was in Waterhouse’s blood.

WARRNAMBOOL, AUSTRALIA – MAY 03: Trainer Gai Waterhouse is seen at the presentation after Valediction won Race 6, the Brierly Steeplechase during Brierly Day at Warrnambool Race Club on May 3, 2016 in Warrnambool, Australia. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

 

While in London working on the stage in her early twenties, Waterhouse was introduced to the National Hunt. Her legendary father, Tommy Smith, had been a steeplechase jockey. When Waterhouse left Warrnambool on the Thursday back in 2013 she agreed to return as a special guest but said she and Robbie would not come alone. There would be a jumps horse. The next year Waterhouse turned up with Valediction, who won a maiden hurdle, Waterhouse’s first jumps winner.

Two years later, Valediction won the Brierly Steeplechase and ran fourth in the Grand Annual. Australia’s most famous-ever trainer was now part of a jumps community that had been on its knees but is now riding a wave of popularity. Six jumps races at Ballarat had attracted a staggering 126 entries.

According to Mike Symons, Ciaron Maher and others, Waterhouse has been a major factor in smashing down the fence between the jumping minority and the racing mainstream.

“It’s sexy to have a jumps horse now,” said Social Element’s jockey, Irishman Tom Ryan.

“Gai Waterhouse is the queen of Australian racing and now she’s also the queen of jumps racing.”

Waterhouse says it’s ironic that she loves jumps racing because her father, the late Tommy Smith, despised it.

“My father was a jumps jockey and hated the jumps because he had a fall that gave him a limp he had for the rest of his life,” she said. “He’d roll in his grave knowing how much I adore it.”

Smith was probably to blame for his daughter’s affection for jumping.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 31: Patrick Flood riding Valediction and Brad McLean riding Maythehorsebemagic (r) during Race 4, The Australian Hurdle during Melbourne Racing at Sandown Lakeside on May 31, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

 

“I used to Hunt in Ireland in the 1970s when I was living in London and acting on the stage,” she said. “My father was friendly with the man who owned The Hunt in Limerick and they invited me to ride out. I'd ridden in the eastern suburbs pony club as a child but hunting in Ireland opened up a whole new world to me. I think it’s the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. I love it, I love the jumping races. It provides these horses with an after-life. Some are moderate horses but they become stars of the jumping circuit. Valediction was a good-average horse who became a star and he was my first (jump) horse. I say to my owners that with a jumping horse you get more bang for your buck. It’s not over in an instant. You make a mistake, you can go again. They don’t just run around just once, they run another circuit. And I think our jumps are a lot easier for them than the ones in New Zealand and Europe where they are really substantial.”

Waterhouse said only echoes remain of Sydney’s former rich jumps era. Steeplechasing ceased in 1931, the hurdles 10 years later. Waterhouse said the thrill of a jumps winner was different to a Slipper, an Oaks or a Doncaster.

“There’s not the same money but I get an enormous thrill from it,” she said.

In her brief career as queen of the jumps, Waterhouse has not had a moment quite like the set-up on Sunday. For Social Element, the Grand National Steeplechase represents the culmination of a stunning season. Such a scenario is not unfamiliar for his co-trainer. Every Oaks, Slipper, Doncaster or Melbourne Cup has been a grand final, the culmination of something. But Waterhouse is nervous, and excited. She will be watching on Sunday from the couch in Sydney, chewing her fingernails.

“It’s going to be such a feat if he can do it,” she said. “He has such a wonderful turn of foot and just pings away from them. But he has the weight and conditions will be very testing. He’s shaping as a very good jumper. It would be lovely if he could do it.”         

 
 

Previous


Gai & Adrian TV 17th September 2021

Gai & Adrian TV 17th September 2021

With fourteen runners across the next three days, this is not an episode you want to miss.  


Gai & Adrian TV 9th September 2021

Gai & Adrian TV 9th September 2021

It's an incredibly exciting day at Kembla on Saturday, with CONVERGE returning in the Group 2 Run To The Rose. 


Gai & Adrian TV 2nd September 2021 - Birthday Special

Gai & Adrian TV 2nd September 2021 - Birthday Special

With no fewer than 18 possible runners over the next three days, it's a huge weekend for Tulloch Lodge.  


In The Congo too slick for high-profile rivals

In The Congo too slick for high-profile rivals

In The Congo used his natural speed to full advantage and upset some high profile three-year-old rivals at Kembla Grange on Saturday. 


Gai & Adrian TV 26th August 2021

Gai & Adrian TV 26th August 2021

Join Adrian as he spins through our weekend runners, including IN THE CONGO, SOCIAL ELEMENT and more.  


Track Work Reports - Archive

Previous


Tulloch Lodge pair will make Elleegant earn win

Tulloch Lodge pair will make Elleegant earn win

“She is a quality mare,’’ Waterhouse said of Shout The Bar. “When she gets to a mile and further she comes into her own." 


Waterhouse-Bott have bases covered in Run To The Rose

Waterhouse-Bott have bases covered in Run To The Rose

“I don’t think his win in the San Domenico was any fluke." 


Gai, Queen Of The Jumps

Gai, Queen Of The Jumps

When Gai Waterhouse arrived by train to the Warrnambool May carnival in 2013, she was a celebrity outsider, a marketing coup.  


Converge continues to be full of surprises

Converge continues to be full of surprises

Converge stamped himself as a horse to follow when producing a stunning turn of foot to win a 1000m Randwick course proper barrier trial on Friday. 


Tulloch Lodge to rely on only one for Up And Coming

Tulloch Lodge to rely on only one for Up And Coming

"Concocted is a nice style of horse, he’s a compact, masculine type and is more a sprinter." 


Track Work Reports - Archive